In “Ballads of Old New York,” published in 1920 by Arthur Guiterman, there is a description of a brief but bitter feud between early Inwood settlers Jan Dyckman and Jan Nagle. Settlers who, by all accounts, were the best of friends until one fateful day in the 1680’s.
The story, which is referenced in other historical texts, offers a unique window into an Inwood that was more like Little House on the Prairie than anything we would recognize today. This surprisingly foolish tale also lends credence to the old adage “Good fences make good neighbors.”
“The Dyckman House”
From: “Ballads of Old New York,” 1920
(Note: Title refers to an older Dyckman residence. Not the familiar farmhouse on 204th and Broadway)
“North of the line to Dyckman to Spuyten Duyvil Kill stretched the domain ruled by the dynasties of Jan Dyckman and Jan Nagle, and ruled in amity save for the comparatively brief duration of a feud arising from a violation of manorial ethics-the Nagle goose strayed into the Dyckman corn and was bitten by the Dyckman dog.
For a time the feeling aroused by this episode was so bitter that the transaction of business was hampered by the refusal of the heads of the two houses to sit on the same administrative board. But the breach was soon healed.
In fact, a year after the death of Nagle, in 1689, Jan Dyckman married the widow of his late feudal brother, and the second generation of both clans was reared under the same roof.
Yet the Dyckmans appear to have been the stronger breed, and “Dyckman” still remains a name to conjure by in northern Manhattan.
The original Dyckman homestead was burned during the Revolution; but the farm-house built by William Dyckman and his sons in 1783 on their return from the war and exile still stands on the west side of Broadway at Two Hundred and Fourth Street, restored and converted into a public memorial of the past through the generosity of the inheritors of the Dyckman blood and spirit.”